Eighth Annual Big Cat Weekend: Barbara Ehrenreich's brilliant nonfiction tome on the origins of war, Blood Rites, makes a startling yet commonsensible hypothesis: Humankind's bellicosity comes from our memory of pre-civilization, when we hadn't discovered fire and hand tools and were extremely vulnerable to larger, hairier, faster, clawed mammals. A few million years of evolution have turned the tables, as activities like the Dallas Zoo's Eighth Annual Big Cat Weekend prove. Our developed brain stems have put the big cats at our mercy, a quality humankind tends to serve in teaspoonfuls. Cat keepers on hand to discuss preservation work will focus on the endangered status of these beautiful, sometimes still deadly creatures, and to assert how their survival benefits everyone. There's live music, a roaring contest, arts and crafts, and special exhibits of big cats receiving yummy treats like "bloodsicles." Activities happen August 9, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., and August 10, 1-5 p.m., at the Dallas Zoo, 650 R.L. Thornton Freeway. Admission to the zoo is $2.50-$5. Call (214) 670-5656.
Hunger: Youth Could Know Theatre Company's co-artistic director Matt Zrebski asserts: "There's nothing more depressing than staging a big musical for an audience of three." Hence, your presence is requested--nay, implored--at Youth Could Know's final summer 1997 show, an original songfest with book, lyrics, and music by Zrebski called Hunger. That prefab "Baby, I'm Gonna Be a Star" showtune vibe creeps out "Calendar" as much as the next Joe or Jane, but the press material for Hunger suggests Zrebski and Youth Could Know have bigger ambitions than letting frustrated opera students strut their vibrato. The play incorporates political and fantasy elements to create a vision of the millennium's end where the interests of a farmer, a swan, and a family created by remarriage converge. Performances happen Monday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. through August 17 in the Basement Theatre B-450 in the Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University. Donations are accepted at the door. Call (214) 739-4710.
Letter From Waco: Anyone who saw Don Howard's sardonic love letter to his hometown, Letter From Waco, at this year's USA Film Festival knows that Howard accomplished a small miracle--making one of Texas' least charming cities into a place of nuance, intrigue, and complexity. Of course, Howard knows that even the dullest, most barren region on the planet contains fodder for analysis if it contains that curious species known as homo sapiens (Lubbock is the sole exception to this; even with humans, it's a dull, barren region). Letter From Waco weaves the Civil War, Dr Pepper, David Koresh, Indian folklore, and ravaging tornadoes into a heartfelt but never sappy essay/prose poem/documentary about the history of Waco, including his life there. Letter From Waco makes its national broadcast debut as part of the Independent Television Service at 9 p.m. on KERA-TV Channel 13. Call (214) 871-1390.
New Acquisitions: During the last few weeks of summer, Photographs Do Not Bend has decided to display its new photos the way a kid displays new clothes at the start of the fall semester. New Acquisitions is the name of a photographic grab bag that introduces viewers both to the newest purchases made by the galleries and, among them, the new artists who've never shown there before. They cover the waterfront from John Albok's urgent, noirish photos of New York City in the 1930s to Imogen Cunningham's abstract renderings of reflected images to William Christenberry's tours of the late 20th century South. The show opens August 8 with a reception 6-9 p.m. and runs through August 30 at 3115 Routh. Call (214) 969-1852.